• Unmanned Aircraft System Assessments of Landslide Safety for Transportation Corridors

      Cunningham, Keith; Olsen, Michael J.; O'Banion, Matt; Wartman, Joseph; Rault, Claire (2016-12)
      An assessment of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) concluded that current, off-the-shelf UAS aircraft and cameras can be effective for creating the digital surface models used to evaluate rock-slope stability and landslide risk along transportation corridors. The imagery collected with UAS can be processed using a photogrammetry technique called Structure-from-Motion (SfM) which generates a point cloud and surface model, similar to terrestrial laser scanning (TLS). We treated the TLS data as our control, or “truth,” because it is a mature and well-proven technology. The comparisons of the TLS surfaces and the SFM surfaces were impressive – if not comparable is many cases. Thus, the SfM surface models would be suitable for deriving slope morphology to generate rockfall activity indices (RAI) for landslide assessment provided the slopes. This research also revealed that UAS are a safer alternative to the deployment and operation of TLS operating on a road shoulder because UAS can be launched and recovered from a remote location and capable of imaging without flying directly over the road. However both the UAS and TLS approaches still require traditional survey control and photo targets to accurately geo-reference their respective DSM.